Our society should’ve collapsed by now; none should be able to function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a Star Wars movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself. This is a blog about the myths that undergird American society, written by Lee Camp.Read More
August 7th, 2020
April 17th, 2020
America was cruising along in the early part of the year, Trump touting the amazingly low unemployment and extremely high Dow Jones Industrial Average. Companies were making profits, and things were moving in that generally-optimistic direction. Infrastructure was being neglected, health insurance was a damnable mess, and Americans were probably more divided that any time since the tumultuous 1960s. Then, a bat’s DNA and some other animal’s DNA combined in a pernicious and horrifying way in some God-forsaken food market in Wuhan, China. All hell broke loose.
Instead of landing in a well-constructed and life-saving social safety net, millions of Americans are out of work, depressed, socially strained, and terribly pessimistic.
This blog features some markers of where we are, economically, in this, the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.
April 11th, 2020
African Americans are an integral part of the United States of America. 95% were brought against their will from Africa (or born to recently-arrived African slaves). They have had to struggle to find even a basic fair treatment from the majority-white populace, and it is incomplete. As a case in point, more black Americans are dying from the coronavirus, proportionally, than whites. Some of this might be able to be attributed to the larger number of premorbid conditions that tend to plague African Americans to a greater degree than other races, but even that leads to the recognition that there must be much about the American experience for black people that is significantly worse than for whites. Asian Americans have pretty decent outcomes in American society, and so it’s hard to tease apart the legacy of slavery from cultural mores and personal choices that are salubrious and prudent. At bottom, though, what is not in dispute is that the African American experience in America has been rough, and that has something to do with racism. I won’t chase every tangent that this introductory paragraph logically leads to — for example, the fact that African Americans are less economically advanced than whites. I will simply sample some politically progressive quotes from African Americans. Who better but these Americans themselves to share their experience?Read More
April 9th, 2020
I often will sit at my computer, kind of bored and idle and unstimulated. I suppose some of that is not only the life of a writer, but as a mostly-unsuccessful blogger, it’s pretty much the bottom of the barrel of the writing profession. So whereas a writer such as Hemingway or Woolf or Nietzsche, whom you could imagine sitting at the typewriter (or chewing mindlessly on their quill), might experience writer’s block (or a manic work-spree), at least they have the highest-caliber brains and publishers awaiting a quality product. Now, with 1,000,000 books published in any given year, and folks being mostly resistant to being marketed to, the number of writers who probably sit and suffer day in and day out must be legion. But, today, I fell into a rich vein of political, philosophical, and written gold, and I want to share it here. The medium: quotes. The subject: America’s characteristic, predictable, and mixed response to the biggest crisis in a century: the coronavirus pandemic. It is stretching each of us, and our social fabric, and our institutions, to the limit. Here are some trenchant thoughts by three sources that all cohere nicely.Read More
March 10th, 2020
The New York Times columnist David Leonhardt worked his way into my respect naturally. Somehow, the NYT started sending me his opinion pieces maybe three or four times a week, and my first thought was, “Who’s the new guy?” A page that has featured Charles Blow, Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Nicholas D. Kristof, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert creates a high bar in my mind. But, over time, Leonhardt has grown to be one of my favorite and most-quoted writers. In one piece, he gives voice to a core is a political philosphy precept of mine: social cohesion depends on political progress. Another way to phrase this idea would be: social welfare vs. individual supremacy vis-a-vis political progressivism.Read More
October 23rd, 2019
I thought about the question, Are human beings selfish?, when I received this snippet of an article from a friend: “Advocates of capitalism understand, as the classical economists understood centuries ago, that government and social institutions must be designed for the human beings that actually exist — callous self-interest and all.” That thought, from The Mises Institute, a capitalistic/libertarian think tank, is making a fair point that can be examined to see how fully and completely true it is. That is what I will do in this blog. As a sneak peek, my answer to the question, Are human beings selfish? will be “Yes, to some degree, but not to the exclusion of all other high values.”Read More
July 18th, 2019
This is one of the hardest starts I have had writing a blog – and usually they just pour out of me. I think it is because the topic is very disturbing to me as a Jew, a liberal, a person who is fairly educated. I also have feelings of hatred inside me, and that is uncomfortable and hard to deal with. Obviously, I don’t want to vomit a screed of ill-conceived hatred onto your screen. Finally, I feel a sense of opaqueness and stuckness when I try to envision the way through. I would imagine that some other folks do not feel so hesitant and overwhelmed, and that may be owing to their greater vision, wisdom, experience, or perspective. At any rate, I will try to share some of my feelings and a few thoughts as well! The topic: the deplorable man occupying the presidency of the United States. The setting: the day after he led a Hitleresque rally denouncing Representative Illyn Omar of Minnesota during which the nearly-all-white mob chanted “Send her back! Send her back!”Read More
December 20th, 2018
I just watched a great documentary by Vice on HBO called Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Anyone who watches that, The Corporation, Inside Job, Margin Call, and The Commanding Heights will be well-schooled on how the financial services industry works and how it fails to work. In this blog, I want to briefly describe the Great Recession and the resultant Tea Party movement, which is tied in to the Trump phenomenon. The profit motive, financial deregulation, elitism, politics, and the Great Recession have something to teach us if we are to avoid another, potentially catastrophic meltdown.Read More
November 17th, 2018
Civil disobedience is a tried-and-true, potent, and ethical way to make your grievances known. Anything from handing out pamphlets to self-immolation can be considered civil disobedience, but the quintessential method is probably group protest that commits a nominal or minor legal infraction. Common would be disrupting traffic during a march, occupying a building during business hours, and picketing that goes beyond the garden-variety. I am not sure if taking a knee at a sports event during the national anthem truly counts – that might just be innocuous free speech. However, since Trump chooses to demagogue about that, instead of letting things take their natural course, it ends up functioning like civil disobedience because of the magnitude of the disruption it engenders. This blog is about the latest trend in left-wing protesting against the powers that be: harassing conservatives during times when these bad actors aren’t working to feather their own nests and undermine the fabric of our society, but simply eating in a restaurant or some such activity.Read More
August 9th, 2018
There are few topics in the United States that get beat down like a hammer pounding a nail into a board than socialism. It’s as if the very word is a curse or slander of something dear to you. One hears: “Socialism in the US, I’d rather DIE first!”; “You’re a Socialist?? then go live somewhere where you’re wanted!”; “Creeping Socialism is like weeds in a garden; once it gets started, it spreads everywhere!” In this guest blog, economist and author Carl Conrad opines on what socialism is, what it isn’t, and why it is a necessary and useful bulwark against runaway capitalism.Read More